Marita-Merkur: Jan II 1941
The fight between the Greeks and Italians has devolved into a slug-fest along the Greek border. Neither side has made much progress through the mountains, though the Greeks are having a decidedly better time of it. The Greeks are short on reinforcements but holding their own, and the Italians are receiving lots of reinforcements, but not making any progress.
Jan II 41: The Italians
The snows continue falling in the mountains, and the Italians finally repair their CR.42s. Another three divisions are sent from Italy to Albania, and they begin to move south towards the front.
The end of the last turn left a gap in the Greek lines, and I stated that i thought it would be foolish for the Italians to try to pry open that gap. As I sit and study it, moving troops into that gap accomplishes three things.
- It cuts the supply line to the two Greek 4-6 divisions currently in Albania.
- It allows the Italians to attack from four different hexes.
- If the Greeks are forced to retreat, they have to do so through zones of control, creating casualties along the way.
The Italians attack with glee. It’s been a long time since they have been in this kind of position. Bombers fly from Corfu, heavily escorted to support the attack. The Allies decline to intercept because they would have been ineffective anyway. Unexpectedly, the Greeks fight back, the end result being a half exchange. The Greeks lose the 1-2-6 artillery regiment, and the infantry division is reduced to its cadre (total of 7 CF lost, minimum of 3.5 CF lost on the Italian side). The fun begins when the cadre retreats from the hex, into enemy zones of control, just like the Italians planned it. One infantry division is destroyed, and the Italians lose the cadre of the 5th mountain division. This tallies up to +6 victory points for the Greeks for the destruction of two Italian divisions.
To the west, the Italian mechanized forces attempt once again to break out to the south. The Italian commander realizes that the 131st Light Armored Division is in precarious position in the mountains, and it has become imperative to get them out of there.
The attack, against combined Greek and Commonwealth forces goes off at 2:1 combat odds (+1 for AEC, -1 DRM for rough terrain cancel each other out). The Allies put up stiff resistance, but eventually succumb to an exchange. The Commonwealth forces are finally destroyed, and the Greeks infantry division reduced to a cadre and forced to retreat. The Allies lose 8 combat factors, and so do the Italians. The Italians choose to eliminate two artillery regiments and two Bersagliari regiments.
The hardest part of the game is deciding which units to eliminate during exchanges and half exchanges. If I can, I will avoid breaking divisional units down to their cadres. I will generally choose to eliminate non-divisionals, unless I have plenty of divisions in the stack and i can replace them. Neither applies in this situation, so the non-divisionals join the dead pool. I chose to hang onto one of the Bersagliari units in order to keep a unit that can move during the exploitation phase if a breakthrough occurs.
Jan II 41: The Allies
The Greeks are rapidly reaching the point where they can no longer allow the Italians to occupy Greek territory and accumulate victory points at this pace. The Italians already have a VP ratio of greater than 3:1. The threat of German intervention is dimming with each passing turn, but if the Greeks hope to win the game, they have to drive the Italians out of Greece.
Over to the east, two Greek divisions have had their supply lines cut (labeled U-1 on the map). They have no choice but to withdraw to Koritsa, giving up a pair of Albanian hexes. But they have moved onto the flank of the Italian 4th Mountain Division. They will not be able to lend a lot of force to the attack, but the stack can contribute 2 combat factors.
The cavalry has arrived in the form of, well, cavalry. The Greeks climb to the top of the mountains and fit their horses for skis, and ski down on top of the Italians, 1 combat factor short of 5:1 odds, but still roll an 8 with the aid of the +2 DRM for mountain attacks, eliminating the Italian 4th Mountain Division, and forcing the cadre to retreat.
To the west, the Greeks shift their line 1 hex in order to bring more power to an attack against the Italian mechanized forces, attacking the 19th Italian Infantry Division and 2nd Bersagliari regiment. This is more or less a revenge attack for the destruction of the Commonwealth forces. The remains of the Allied air forces fly overhead to support the attack and are intercepted by MC.200s, CR.42s and G.50s. With all of the Italian aircraft overhead, the air-to-air ratio is still only 2:1. The Italians abort the Greek mixed bomber counter, but completely miss the British fighter bombers flying at low altitude. The addition of ground support from the British brings the combat odds up to 4:1, -1 DRM for rough terrain.
The Greeks don’t cause any casualties, but push the Italians back to their start lines at the beginning of the turn. The Greeks advance en masse into the vacated hex, and dare the Italians to attack again. The Italian tanks are still stuck in the mountains.
Finally, comes the most dangerous attack, one that I contemplated, left the game for awhile, to come back and actually do it.
Attacking out of the newly completed mountain fort, the Greeks attack the Italian 2nd Mountain Division and 3rd Mountain Cadre. This is a desperation attack, because as I said, the Greeks have to start driving the Italians out, as hard and as fast as they can.
The problem is, the combat odds for this attack are 1:1. The Greeks have 7 attack factors to the Italians 6 defense factors. Since there are two Italian mountain units in this hex, the decision is made to use the optional table, and the Greeks roll a 2. Attacker half eliminated. But wait! The Greeks still need to add their +_2 DRM to the roll, bringing it to an exchange. The Greeks win the battle, and completely eliminate the 3rd mountain cadre, and destroy the 2nd mountain division to its cadre strength. The Greek printed strength is 13 combat factors. Unfortunately, the only Greek infantry division in the attack has been reduced to its cadre strength, and a 3-6 infantry brigade was destroyed.
The Italian mountain force has been completely decimated, and the Italians have been left with virtually no offensive punch., and the Greeks are on the verge of breaking through.
End of Turn VP Tally
The end of the last turn had the Italians ahead, 104 VPs to the Greeks 32.
Italian VPs, Jan II 41:
- +3 VP for control of Corfu
- +15 for control of three Greek mountain hexes
- +2 for control of one Greek non-mountain hex
- +6 VP for elimination of three Commonwealth combat factors.
Total Italian VPs: 130
Greek VPs, Jan II 41:
- +6 VP for destruction of three Italian divisions
- +4 VP for control of 2 Albanian hexes
Total Greek VPs: 42
The Italians still maintain their 3:1 VP ratio, but as stated earlier, they have no offensive punch left. The center of their line is completely exposed and on the verge of collapse. The number of divisions arriving to the front is starting to trickle out. The Italians must stabilize their front line, and the Greeks have to hope their few remaining reinforcements will arrive in time to push the Italians back into Albania.
One more month until the British start arriving in force.